The month wore on. Though it was cool at night I left the windows open to hear the rain slap the patio. The light was different now, and struggled to make it over the trees. The grass had gone to moss with the scant mushroom popping up, autumn’s blooms. They were just putting out Christmas stuff but it was hardly even Halloween.
I made it to the mountains for a night but got caught in a storm and had to hold my tent down with both arms, didn’t really sleep. In the morning I woke to crows and fog but no rain, so I moved quickly to break camp and head out. The moon was full when it rose in the dusk and passed through the clouds like a coin through a slot. I gathered water from a stream but it tasted bad so I washed it down with whiskey and brushed my teeth, spit the paste on a rock. At some alien time the tent tore out of the ground and the poles twisted and the hand of god pressed down on me with wind followed by rain and then rain followed by wind, and finally just rain.
I followed the same trail out, remembering the last time I’d come here with Lily, those three or four spots she’d struggled with the exposure. I thought it would be confidence building for her but didn’t realize she was developing an anxiety that had only grown worse with age. I tried to shake it out of her but didn’t know much about anything, then.
At times they seemed so fragile but unnecessarily so, our kids. Scared to be without the sound of something playing from a device in their room at night. Uneasy with the thought of silence, to be left alone with their own thoughts, untethered. As if their thoughts would drift to dark, worrisome topics…as if they themselves weren’t enough, themselves. How much I just wanted to drag them outdoors and free them, to teach them self-reliance. To listen for water coming from a stream, and collect and filter it. Or tie down a tent. But they weren’t interested, and that window had closed.
The dog sniffed at the seam on the door outside and grunted. When I picked Lily up and drove her home I commented on the sky with the sun setting and said look, how pretty that is…and she tried to get it with her phone, but of course she couldn’t.